An explosive expert and a stockpile manager, Professor Yakubu, has raised an alarm over the possible explosion of 17,000 live bombs stockpiled in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Prof. Yakubu made the revelation when he spoke with Sun over the weekend saying that these were bombs used during the Nigerian Civil War.
He said the explosives include 81 and 82 mm Mortar Bombs, 2” mortar bombs, which are all area neutralising bombs; 100 mm air defence ammunition for anti-aircraft defence and Fragmentation anti-personnel land mines.
Others are General purpose aerial bomb 75kg, Energa grenade, anti tank land mines locally made and small calibre ammunition.
According to Yakubu, the 17,000 live bombs currently being stored at number 109, Achike Udenwa Avenue in new Owerri, a densely populated area, could go off anytime, especially now that the rains are here, and cautioned that if nothing is done to urgently dispose of these bombs, Owerri, may be another theatre of horror.
Yakubu also narrated how he got a contract from the federal government in 2009 to clear land mines and explosive remnants in the Southeastern part of the country, and had successfully removed over 18,000 explosives before he got a stop order from the Ministry of Defence in 2012.
He said since then, he had written several letters to the federal government and got no positive result, but that things got worse with the coming on board of the current Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who, he said “is playing tribal and religious politics with the issue.”
Yakubu, who said he was raising the alarm to alert Nigerians, the public and the world, of the impending dangers, said “despite two court orders, one from the High Court Owerri, giving instructions that those bombs should be relocated, the government has not shown seriousness.”
“The land mines were laid by the federal government against the enemy at the time in the territory of the former eastern region. The work progressed until we got the stop order in 2012.
“Mine action centre is a specific installation of the United Nations from where you coordinate all mine actions which include removing bombs, removing land mines, taking care of the injured and so on.
“Now, we have dug out where we put these bombs, and the heaviest bombs I have in that place is 75 kilograms each, and I have two of them. We co-habit with people on 109, Achike Udenwa Avenue in New Owerri. It is not too far from the Concord Hotel.
“Remember that Ikeja, some years back, had explosions, resulting from explosives from the depot. If such a thing happens where we have these bombs today, sincerely speaking, I don’t know how many casualties we are going to have in Owerri. First and foremost, most people on that street, including us, would be gone.”
“If fire is thrown there, it will lead to an explosion. And now that we are in the rainy season, it is possible from lightening, although we have taken precautions against lightening. People could get into the stockpiles and pick the bombs and go and use them elsewhere, that is possible because in the past, like in Igwuruta, in Rivers State, I met women who cracked palm-kernel with these bombs and when you try to stop them from doing so they tell you they have been doing that in ages. They don’t know the dangers of what they do.”